Text: Jude Morte / Photos: Jude Morte | posted October 12, 2009 12:31
Four doors and fast
Recently Porsche answered that clamor with yet another step into diversification - the arrival of the Panamera. The German car company's first foray into the four door saloon market, it is built on a platform toting a wheelbase longer than traditional midsize luxury saloons like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes Benz E-Class but shorter than those of larger sedans like the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes Benz S-Class (the local Panamera's direct competition). Definitely it breaks the mold for cars bearing the iconic red, black and gold crest.
Say what you want about the styling; love it or hate it, the Panamera is one undeniably sleek and sporty automobile. But that doesn't mean occupants and future owners will be treated to a claustrophobic cabin unfriendly to the taller/larger than average moneyed Filipino. The front cabin is definitely accommodating, and the two-person backseat has headroom and legroom to spare. From the driver's seat, the Panamera's interior evokes the current model 911s. Major controls are easy to reach, yet there's more space in virtually every dimension. While most competing luxury sport sedans these days have some sort of controller interface (such as BMW's iDrive) Porsche has resisted the trend. Consequently, the entire center console is covered with buttons that control suspension, air conditioning and even audio entertainment settings, which may or may not be to one's liking.
At the rear, the bucket seats can fit six-footers, albeit two only. They can be optioned with eight-way power adjustability, heating, cooling and a refrigerated box which makes them a legit contender in a market that's either BMW or Benz-dominated. On the other hand, the trunk can be accessed via a power hatchback trunk, but space can be a bit wanting it can fit just four to five medium sized travel bags without blocking rearward vision.
The Panamera comes in three variants - the Php9.9 million S, the Php10.7 million 4S, and the Php12.9 million Turbo that correspond to drivetrain choice. The bottom end, rear wheel drive Panamera S and the mid-spec/all-wheel-drive Pamanera 4S tote an au naturel (read: naturally aspirated) front-mounted, 400 hp/500 NM 4.8L V8. On the other hand, the Panamera Turbo's 4.8L V8 twin turbo powerplant puts out an insane 500 hp and 700 NM of torque, with a manufacturer-claimed 0-100 kph time of 4.2 seconds.
Despite weighing in at about 1804 kg (for the naturally aspirated versions) and 1,974 kg (for the Turbo), the saloon is surprisingly nimble. Helped immensely by suspension components all made of aluminum/magnesium alloys to save weight. The result is what you'd expect from a Porsche - home on fast roads with sweeping corners, playing in the tight stuff if you insist, but you're guaranteed to have more fun when the roads begin to unwind. The Panamera's stopping power is also topnotch, providing the same determined, consistent decelerative force when applied with authority.